“The Wife as Her Husband’s Counterpart” Principles of Completion in Marriage
Genesis 2; Eph. 5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.21-24 Part 2
Genesis chapter 2. We will continue our subseries in the book of Ephesians on the family.
Last time, we discussed the wife as an indispensable companion. And so we discussed the first of two purposes for marriage, companionship. And we had a number of principles for companionship in marriage.
And I strongly urged the couples to have a sitdown chat together about how you are doing in this area of companionship. And men, if you have not done that yet, please be careful to talk with your wife about the message.
We noted that companionship and friendship is vitally important in marriage because it is a gift of God and enjoyable but also because companionship enables the second purpose for marriage which is completion. We’ll discuss completion this morning.
Let’s read again Genesis 2:18-24 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make [an indispensable companion for him who is his counterpart].” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found [an indispensable companion for him who is his counterpart]. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
So we are focusing on the second part of the translation we’ve inserted…which is his counterpart. The wife is an indispensable companion who is the husband’s counterpart. The King James phrasing is “I will make him an help meet for him” …. We are translating it “I will make him an indispensable companion who is his counterpart.” And that phrase “who is his counterpart” translates a word that can literally be “according to the opposite of him.”
The wife is clearly different than her husband; she is the opposite of him…. She is his counterpart. They complement each other well. His strengths are her weaknesses and her strengths are his weaknesses and there is a complementing and completing that is designed to happen.
So one of the purposes for marriage then is godliness: to strengthen one another in godliness. Growth needs to occur. Spiritual growth, character development. In what area are you weak and your spouse is strong? Seek to grow in that area. This is a purpose for marriage and if you fail to understand this and do this, your marriage will often be miserable.
But if you’re humble and you seek change and you want to grow and you want to please the Lord with your growth in Christ, this part of marriage will be a delight to you because your spouse will sharpen you… one way or another… to become more like Jesus Christ.
This morning’s message is filled once again with applications of the completing process and so I’d like to preach on “The Wife as Her Husband’s Counterpart” Principles of Completion in Marriage.
With completion often comes conflict. And conflicts aren’t always bad; we just need to know how to work through them in order for God’s design for completion to take shape. But if we were honest, because we don’t hold God’s desires near and dear to our hearts, when there is conflict there is also sometimes a lack of peace in the marriage. So, there needs to be a great desire for peace when completing.
An article published by the University of California, Berkeley begins this way …
Marriage can be a battlefield. But a new study conducted at UC Berkeley has found that, when it comes to keeping the peace, it’s more important for wives than for husbands to calm down after a heated argument.
While both spouses were equally able to cool down during conflicts, the husbands’ emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction, according to the study’s findings published online Nov. 4 in the journal Emotion.
“When it comes to managing negative emotion during conflict, wives really matter,” said psychologist Lian Bloch, lead author of the study, which she conducted during doctoral and postdoctoral studies at Berkeley and Stanford….
Bloch and fellow researchers at Berkeley and Northwestern University analyzed videotaped interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, focusing on how they recovered from disagreements. Time and again they found that marriages in which wives quickly calmed down during disputes were ultimately shown to be the happiest, both in the short and long run.
“Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples. But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive,” Bloch said.
Interesting…but how to get sinners to do that is the question!
In a godly marriage, there are ways to do that that honor Christ. The wife was made for the man and this study seems to support that truth, especially when there is conflict. Men need help when attempting to control anger.
Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
Husbands are tempted to become embittered against their wives.
We need clear principles on how to work through conflicts when completing. This is where your handout comes in. This handout is a compilation of tidbits Ruth and I have taught ourselves over our 8 years of marriage.
“Conflicts when Completing”
How to Work Through Conflicts in the Home
And these principles work well for husband and wife but as well for anyone in the home. Before teaching this to the children, husbands and wives should have a good handle on this themselves or at least be very committed to it.
First, you need to know that we are totally depraved.
We are by nature sinners against God. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Our very nature is that we are sinners before God. And sin has affected our entire beings.
It has affected our body. Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
There is the possibility that sin could reign in your mortal body as a believer. Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
This is my condition! Romans 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
So sin as affected our bodies. But it has also affected our minds. Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Foolish heart darkened: this is our natural condition before God apart from Christ. We retain some of the difficulties of the darkened heart. We studied this in Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
A believer could fail and then choose to walk in the futility of his mind once again. Don’t do that.
So sin has affected our minds.
But it has also affected our emotions. Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
This is our sin nature at work. And our wills are affected by sin 2 Timothy 2:25-26 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
If unbelievers are held captive by Satan to do his will, our wills have some capacity to fail and to be doing the will of Satan. And God is at work of restoring his image in us to enable us to turn against our own wills and the will of Satan and to receive and to do the will of God.
Sin has affected the entirety of our being. That means that we are totally depraved. There is not a single part of us that has not been affected by sin in some way.
And where two or three sinners are gathered together, there is likely to be not just conflict but sinful conflict.
Total depravity meeting total depravity in the home is like fire meeting gasoline. E.g., husband to wife, wife to husband, child to parent, parent to child …. Ahem, it works every way!
Now as we get into the rest of this morning, we need to make two points that are not on the sheet here. Number one, have compassion on each other. Everybody struggles with their sin nature! You struggle with your sin nature. Your wife struggles with her sin nature… Have some compassion like you’d have with a child who just doesn’t understand sometimes.
Number two, know that Jesus Christ in his gospel is the solution for your sin nature. Never forget that there is no victory over your sin nature without the gospel of Christ working in your life. The gospel first begins to have its way in you when you receive the gospel for the first time.
When you realized you could no longer do life and you knew you were full of sin and you were at the end of your rope and you collapsed your being before Christ and confessed that you have nothing good in yourself but only sin and you tell him that you want to turn from your sin and your only trusting him for salvation because you know that he is the Lord that died for your sin and was raised from the dead and you gave your puny little life over to him…. This is the first step… this is salvation.
But sanctification continues after salvation. It demands the same attitude. I’m done. “I’m collapsing myself before you Lord.” …. There is nothing good in me but you…. “I know that apart from you, Jesus, I can do nothing.”
Any sin problems that you have first demands more of an understanding of the gospel. Study Christ! Who is he? What has he done for you? What did he accomplish on the cross? What are all the benefits of salvation? What does it mean that he is the Lord? And how does his Lordship relate to your sin and the struggles that you are having in your marriage?
This is the first step.
If you don’t include Christ and his gospel in your heart, that lack will carry over into your marriage and you will see it playing out before your very eyes when there is ungodly conflict.
Continuing on the sheet now, we know conflicts in the marriage happen. And conflicts can happen between saved people.
Conflicts can happen because of sin or because of disagreement. And they of themselves are not wrong, but they often result in sin. You remember the story of Paul and Barnabas in acts chapter 15.
Acts 15:36-40 36 Paul says to his partner in ministry Barnabas… “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along [because he] had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
Now, did they sin? We don’t know. What we do know is that there was a sharp disagreement and actually, this probably turned out for the better and they accomplished more work for Christ’s sake.
So conflicts can happen between godly people, but it is a matter of how you work with them that counts.
And it bears repeating, but often conflicts will happen in the home because of differences between each other. Your strengths will often be the mirror image of your spouse’s weakness. And these differences are meant to strengthen each other, but often they frustrate you! And just because there are differences, doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. But we need to allow for the completing process to be accomplished in our marriages.
Now, on the backside that sheet, we need to learn how to work through conflicts.
The focus on how we work through conflicts is with Ephesians 4:30-5:2 in mind. Ephesians 4:30-5:2 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
And see in there in chapter 5 verse two that we are to walk in love, just as Christ has loved us. When we come to truly understand the love of Christ, we will display the love of Christ.
So that passage is a key passage when in conflict with others. Now, what to do …. First, we must recognize the conflict. Recognize the conflict
In the home, when we speak of conflict, we’re talking about behavior in another that is repetitive that desperately needs to be changed or we are speaking about having some issue that we can’t heal from.
For example, there may be the repetitive behavior of always leaving your dirty laundry on the floor and that is driving your spouse bananas. Or maybe there was something said that was unkind and it hurt you in an unusual way, and you can’t get over it.
These things need to be discussed. And if you can’t get over it for whatever reason, you need to bring it up. But sometimes, there is behavior or character qualities that need to be overlooked and not confronted. We’re not out to change every little detail about somebody. The Holy Spirit is at work in your saved spouse, right?
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
But if there is damaging repetitive behavior or you have trouble healing from some issue… Or it is harmful to somebody and you decided that it needs to be addressed, first off here, you will need to wait before addressing it.
For most of us most of the time, addressing somebody else’s character flaws to their face can’t be done correctly in the heat of the moment. You’ll need some time to figure out exactly what is the problem, how best to address it, and to cool off perhaps, and to pray so that you can address it underneath the control the Holy Spirit.
This also allows for time to write down specific facts about what it is that is bothering you. Write down the facts, not emotions. You want to write down the event, the problem, or the hurt.
Because ladies, unless you’re man has a perfect memory … you know that’s not true ….! he probably will not be able to recall the issue if you don’t help him with specifics. Saying things like, “do you remember that thing you said that hurt me” and leaving it at that, is not helpful.
Write down the event, the problem, and the hurt.
Once you are ready, be sure to address the conflict at the right time. Make sure you are relaxed and the other is too, and you haven’t had an extremely stressful day! When conflicts happen and there needs to be a discussion, if you’re not controlled by the Spirit, it’s not the best time discuss the issue.
When you choose to address the conflict, make sure that you present it factually, like discussing the day’s activities.
Make sure you choose your words carefully. I think we all appreciate what we would call the “sandwich approach.” Begin and end with sincere appreciation for the one you are confronting. Think of real genuine strengths that the person has or the desires that the person has, even as it relates to the issue at hand. If the other could be a better husband or wife, be sure to express specific compliments with sincere appreciation about how he or she is a good husband or a good wife.
In other words don’t say, “You’re a great mom, but you stink at being a wife.” No, how is she a good wife…. Start with that. How is he a good husband? Start with that.
And also end with that. In the middle of your sandwich express your concern. This is the sandwich approach and it helps your spouse or whoever it is to swallow your concerns.
And don’t accuse with phrases like, “why would you…?” Or exaggeration statements like, “you always” or “you never….” Instead, use “I” statements. “I feel this way…” Or “I think this way when this happens” or “I am tempted to be angry when you….”
Don’t say “you make me angry,” “you don’t treat me right” “you don’t this or that….” Those are fighting words.
When you are talking in this way, both persons involved should do what I call “mirror” the conversation. You are trying to find areas in which you agree, you are reflecting each other’s statements, and you are asking questions.
In other words, don’t try to disagree and don’t try to be defensive. Try to agree. Reflect the conversation and ask questions. Say things like, “is this what you are saying?”
And seek more facts from each other…., “Do you also think this way? Are you tempted this way? Is there anything else along these lines? Are we hitting the issue correctly?”
And don’t be defensive and justify yourself…. “Yeah, but….” That’s not a good way to go. Be careful to love each other.
1 Corinthians 13:5 [love] does not act unbecomingly [or rude]; it does not seek its own [not self-serving], is not provoked [does not become angered easily], does not take into account a wrong suffered, [does not get resentful]
And have the attitude in the conversation of removing the logs in your own eyes. Instead of accusing, admit your own specific faults, be humble confess your sins to one another. Don’t say, “Yeah, I have a lot to work on too, but here are your specifics.” No, admit your own specifics first! Especially as it relates to the very area you’re discussing…
Matthew 7:1-5 1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
In other words, have the attitude in the conversation that you want to remove the log that is in your own eye so that you can take out the piece of dust out of your brother’s eye. Admit where you failed in the issue. More than likely, you are at least 40% at fault in some way. Admit your 40% of the problem.
And table the discussion if there’s too much emotion. No one should be able to look on in the conversation and see that you are angry. If you are hurt in some way, that will show itself. But don’t use your emotion to manipulate the other or twist the arm of the other. If there is too much emotion or anger, take a break for however long and come back to it. Say you’re sorry and ask, “Do you want to take a break?”
And once you have discussed it thoroughly, decide on an actionable solution.
Graciously voice to each other what you are going to do to grow from this. If you need help, allow the other to help you. But voice your desire for personal growth and suggest a plan on how to accomplish it. That is humility. Humility can go a long ways with others.
It really is required in resolving conflict … So lastly, resolving the conflict… So if you have a problem within a close relationship, husband or wife, parent child… These principles can all work together…. You need to properly recognize the conflict as we said, address the conflict properly, and finally resolve the conflict.
Humble person will confess their sins and repent of their sin they will also readily forgive. If you need help with forgiveness and reconciliation, I have a sheet on that on the back table.
But don’t leave a conversation grumpy…you talk until you’re ok. You may need a break, but come back to it. To let it drop and let “time heal all wounds” is wrong! Get right with each other and don’t let the sun go down on your anger. You open up the door to Satan if you do that.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.21-24 Part 2
This is a message that if you are having trouble in your relationship with your spouse and you find yourself fighting and hurting one another, you’ll need to go over this again. You’ll need to practice this over and over again. You’ll need to remind each other about “the sheet.” This half sheet that you have in front of you I call “the sheet.” You may need to carry the sheet around with you in some cases or laminate it… or better … frame it and put it on the wall… or on each wall in your house!
And again assumed in all of this is your salvation that you’ve repented and trusted Christ and God has regenerated your heart and you desire to please the Lord. This is all assumed. Are you empowered by and motivated by the thought that you are to live a life that is worthy of the calling that you been called to? Does your calling in Christ empower you in your life … And in the life you have with your spouse and others? And are you controlled by the Holy Spirit …are you submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit by telling him you desire this?
Are you seeking to grow in Christ every day not just reading the word, but desiring growth? And are you living in the fear of Christ … Do you realize that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church? Does that strike a chord of seriousness and reverence in your heart? Could someone look on and see that you are seeking to emulate Christ and his church and are succeeding to whatever extent?
If you need help, or if your marriage is on the rocks please call me or get in touch with me somehow. My wife and I are both available for your help.
God has instituted the government, the church, and marriage. He considers your relationship to your spouse as a very serious thing. So if you are not thriving in your relationship and your spouse is shriveling up, you are causing harm to the cause of Christ and it is time to get things right.
Men, let’s take some leadership. Listen to your wives appreciate their thoughts, value their feelings, care for them as fellow heirs of the grace of life. Live with her … You are commanded by God to live with your wife 1 Peter 3:7…. And to live with her in an understanding way. Understand her. Study her. Take time to care about what she says and how she feels what’s going on in her heart.
And then if there are issues in your marriage, you are responsible. You might feel like you only hold 1% of the problem in the relationship. And that your wife and your kids hold the other 99%. That’s probably not true, by the way, but even if it was, the other 99% is still your problem as much as your problems are your problems! Your 1% of it is your problem and their 99% of it is your problem …. You are responsible to lead your family through the 99% of their problem. What are you going to do to help them?
So even if none of it was your problem and 100% of it was their problem, you have 100% of the problem to deal with. How are you going to lead your family in a way that reflects Christ’s relationship to his church?
Let’s take the leadership, men, on conflicts in the home and be the first to be humble and to confess and get things right. Let’s give diligence to properly working through conflicts in the home.
O give us homes, 731
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